Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

February 3, 2005

Ellis Strick

Ellis Strick, 83, an associate professor emeritus of geophysics in the Department of Geology and Planetary Sciences, died of lymphoma at this home in Scott Township, Jan. 19, 2005.

Strick, who taught at the University from 1968 to 1990, authored more than 30 publications on seismology, geophysics, physics and nuclear physics.

“He was probably one of the most brilliant people our department ever had,” said Walter Pilant, an emeritus associate professor of geology and planetary sciences at the University. During much of his career, Strick worked ceaselessly on theoretical geophysics models that never garnered the recognition they should have had, according to Pilant.

Strick received his B.S. in industrial physics from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1942 and earned his Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics from Purdue in 1950. He studied under Enrico Fermi, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who was one of the lead scientists on the Manhattan Project.

Strick worked as a radio physicist for the Naval Research Laboratory from 1942 to 1945, when he was drafted into the U.S. Navy during World War II. He worked in private industry as well as a researcher in geophysics for the Shell Exploration and Production Research Laboratory in Texas from 1951 to 1968.

While at Pitt, Strick started work in 1970 on a model in the mechanisms of energy dissipation and attenuation in solid and fluid media, according to Pilant. “Ellis had dogged determination to construct this model, it was like climbing the Mt. Everest of physics,” he said. “He was trying to make things work on a time scale from one-thousandth of a second to a scale of a billion a second – and this model made sense over the entire range of process time,” Pilant said. “He ultimately got to a beautiful structure, but it was never recognized,” he added.

Strick had an enormous sense of curiosity and wonderment, according to Pilant. Strick was the first person in the geology and planetary science department to buy his own computer, not using University or grant money, he said. “And he bought a television kit in the mid-1960s and soldered every resistor and every capacitor…and it worked.”

Strick is survived by his wife, Sadie Strick; son Daniel of Kensington, Calif; daughter Arlene of Falls Church, Virginia; stepdaughter Deborah Elias of Uniontown, and four step-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Feb. 5 at the First Unitarian Church, 605 Morewood Ave., Shadyside at 2 p.m. Donations can be made to the church’s sanctuary renovation fund.

-Mary Ann Thomas

Leave a Reply